HDR gaming is a term that refers to playing a video game in a ‘high dynamic range.’ HDR gaming is one of the newer innovations in the gaming business.
HDR video games provide more detailed visuals, more crisp reflections, and a wider dynamic range of lighting effects. In addition, there is a picture option in several games where players may take screenshots.
We will answer all your questions in this article about HDR gaming. So let’s go!
What Is HDR Gaming?
HDR gaming refers to playing games in HDR mode.
We use the term “High-Dynamic Range” (HDR) to describe a display capable of showing a greater range of contrast ratio and color than a standard dynamic range (SDR) screen.
Whether or not a display can render an image with more contrast, a broader color gamut, and a more accurate depiction of brightness is determined by the high-dynamic range (HDR) specification.
This function implies that, with HDR-compatible material and a properly calibrated display, you will be able to see finer details in both bright and dark areas. Depending on the implementation, you may also notice that the picture seems somewhat more vivid or more color-accurate.
The word “also” serves as a vital differentiator since there are two essential elements to excellent HDR production: the display and the content. For example, a monitor might claim HDR support but yet show video poorly. Also, a poorly integrated HDR can make the material worse than the standard dynamic range.
Since you have no say over how high dynamic range gets rendered in a given game or movie, the most you can do is choose a display capable of doing so. It would help if you kept an eye out for the following characteristics: high peak brightness, good local dimming, and broad color gamut support.
Your display’s maximum brightness will dictate the maximum contrast ratio it can produce, with SDR unable to adequately emphasize bright regions of an image. The ability of your display to maintain a high contrast ratio and crisp images while displaying both a dark and a light source depends largely on the implementation of local dimming.
Games and movies that rely on accurate colors will benefit from a broad color gamut since the display can generate more colors than an SDR panel.
HDR Gaming Is All About Peak Brightness
The quality of HDR images depends on the display’s peak brightness, particularly during gaming. This factor is the one that tops the list of the most crucial ones to learn. You should seek a monitor or television with a maximum peak brightness of at least 1,000 nits. This level is the minimum acceptable level.
Take a moment to recall your favorite locations in Skyrim or Assassin’s Creed to enjoy the sunset. The scene, without a doubt, will look really beautiful. However, if you don’t use HDR, you won’t be able to experience the true beauty of the scene.
HDR can produce such stunning visuals, but only if the panel is bright enough to differentiate between HDR and SDR noticeably.
Games, in particular, reap the benefits of high dynamic range (HDR) more than other forms of media, such as movies. Brightness is just one of HDR’s many advantages. This advantage is for a very important reason, and that reason is that games need to be playable.
Most video gameplay takes place in the light, except for subgenres such as horror and simulation. It is a terrible fate for someone to die at the hands of an enemy they had no chance of seeing.
To better see their opponents, competitive gamers will even go so far as to enhance their games’ brightness intentionally. The current trend in video gaming is toward colorful, eye-catching titles that play to ultra-bright HDR screens’ strengths.
What Do You Need for HDR Gaming?
You will require a monitor compatible with HDR right out of the box. Manufacturers are incorporating HDR technology in TVs, and most televisions support at least some variation of this function.
You will need a monitor, but you will also need an HDR source. An HDR source is a medium that supplies the picture to the monitor. This picture could come from any device, such as a PC, a gaming console, a video streaming service, or even a Blu-ray player compatible with the software.
It is important to keep in mind that HDR will not function unless there is a source that delivers the necessary additional color information. Even if your monitor can display HDR content, the picture will still appear on your screen. However, you won’t be able to enjoy the advantages of HDR. In this respect, it is analogous to resolution. For example, suppose you do not provide a 4K image. In that case, you will not see a 4K image, even if you use a display compatible with 4K resolution.
Thankfully, HDR is supported by publishers across various media, such as video streaming services, movies released on UHD Blu-ray discs, and many consoles and PC games. Unfortunately, not every PC game supports this technology. However, the number of titles continues to grow, with high-profile releases such as Cyberpunk 2077, Star WarsTM: Squadrons, and Marvel’s Avengers all supporting HDR.
What Are the HDR Gaming Formats?
In contrast to terms like resolution or refresh rate, HDR refers less to a specific number and more to a spectrum. Consequently, HDR is not standardized, and the outcomes may differ from one display manufacturer to another. For example, HDR usually refers to a larger range of contrast ratio and color compared to SDR. However, the actual range of contrast ratio and color might vary depending on the situation.
There are several HDR formats available, but the following are some of the most common ones you’re likely to run into:
HDR10 is the most widely used format because it is an open-source standard that does not require users to pay licensing fees. Due to the broad use of HDR10, the HDR10 standard is practically the baseline HDR standard.
The HDR10+ standard is the most recent iteration of the HDR10 standard. It enables a wider range of color and contrast and supports dynamic information. As opposed to the conventional metadata of HDR10, which only allows for limited information about color, the dynamic metadata of the HDR 10+ supports brightness levels of up to 4,000 nits and provides access to additional color information.
Dolby Vision is an HDR standard developed by Dolby Laboratories. This format is not as widely used as HDR10 since it requires a better-quality display, and there is a price associated with using the technology itself.
Dolby Vision can support brightness levels up to 10,000 nits, far greater than what is available on the vast majority of televisions and monitors on the market today. However, many streaming services and enterprises still support Dolby Vision. In addition, certain displays can show content in HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats.
Each of these standards and other HDR standards that are less widespread, such as HLG, have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, all of them are significantly better than SDR. Therefore, when shopping for an HDR display, it is important to pay attention to the specific version of HDR that the display employs and to verify that it meets your requirements.
Is HDR Mode Good for Gaming?
The only way to figure out if HDR is good for gaming for yourself is to physically go to a shop near you and try out a monitor there. The only issue we need to answer is whether or not HDR is worth the investment, particularly in comparison to the SDR displays that most of us use today.
HDR mode is good for gaming but don’t overspend on getting an HDR monitor. We say this because there is a lack of quality HDR material right now, particularly in the gaming industry. The price difference between HDR and SDR monitors is rather large. So we don’t think you would want to shell out a substantial amount extra for an HDR monitor since HDR content is limited worldwide.
However, one thing that we should bring to your attention is the fact that developers and producers are constantly working to make games and entertainment more realistic. This means that sooner or later, you will find yourself in a situation where you will ultimately need to upgrade to keep up with the growing demand for HDR.
4K or HDR – What’s Better for Gaming?
What’s better between HDR and 4k comes down to personal preference. However, read on to learn more:
4K vs. HDR Difference in Picture Quality
An image comprises small squares of colors referred to as pixels. On computer and television displays, pixels are present in a grid, and each one lights up at a distinct level of intensity.
If you go near enough to your display, you’ll be able to make out the individual pixels that make up the image. After then, a picture will start to take shape as a result of the pixels coming together as you step back.
There are at least 9 million active pixels in a display with 4K resolution, which is four times the amount of pixels found in a display with 1080P resolution and almost 23 times the resolution of SD. When there are four times as many pixels as 1080P, the density of pixels for a certain area increases, and the pixel blocks are smaller.
Hence, the visuals get crisper, and more vibrant colors are available. Finally, the finer borders and more visual depth of 4K pictures give viewers the impression that they are gazing directly out a window, compared to the more pixelated images of resolutions like 1080P.
HDR is unrelated to resolution, making it distinct from 4K. Instead, it is a technique you can use to get additional details.
If you took a photo in bright sunshine, for instance, without HDR, the picture would come out white and washed out. But, suppose you focused the camera on a dark area and then moved it to a brighter area. In that case, the monitor would blow out the bright areas of the picture.
HDR and WCG (Wide-Color Gamut) are two technologies that work together to increase video quality closer to what is truly seen by the human eyes. These technologies accomplish this accuracy through color grading, which softens harsh shadows, and amplifies colors and other effects.
With high dynamic range (HDR), the contrast in brighter and darker surroundings is more varied. Hence, HDR enables you to detect components better without causing blooms or washouts, as well as muddy or blurry colors. As a result, you can see the true colors of various aspects, such as highlights, reflections, sunlight, shadows, and more.
4K vs. HDR in Gaming
On PC, playing games in 4K has been common practice for some time. For example, you can play AAA games at 4K resolution as soon as you have a high-performance GPU and a display that supports the resolution. In addition, 4K capability is coming to consoles with the release of gaming machines from Sony and Microsoft.
The Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro are two systems produced by Microsoft and Sony, respectively, that have the upscaling capacity to provide 4K images.
The most recent iterations of Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation game consoles support native 4K HDR at frame rates of up to 120Hz. Also, they can now deliver more refined 4K gaming experiences. Moreover, the next-generation Nintendo Switch 2 can play games at 4K.
HDR gaming has become much more prevalent in AAA titles than 4K gaming and has been used for quite some time in the game industry to provide more realistic and immersive visuals. The first HDR-compatible gaming system was the Xbox One S, which Microsoft introduced in 2016.
The PS4 Pro, compatible with both 4K and HDR, was released by PlayStation shortly after. The company subsequently upgraded the original PS4 system to include HDR capability. Now, Microsoft has plans to automatically add compatibility for high dynamic range (HDR) to over a thousand different PC games.
Does HDR Reduce FPS?
HDR does not have a significant effect on the FPS. However, since HDR is very demanding of the GPU, you may experience occasional performance drops.
Compared to other picture metrics like resolution, the effect of HDR may often be more immediately noticeable. However, it is reasonable to anticipate that this display technology will continue to advance. Moreover, color accuracy and contrast ratio spectrums will broaden when HDR becomes the baseline norm, and HDR monitors will become more common.
In principle, making HDR work well is easy. You need a powerful, color-accurate Mini-LED (or OLED) display with a maximum brightness of at least 1,000 nits. There should be no issues with the video card or display connection.
Support for HDR in Windows and games is not always reliable, but it does the job. Developers release hundreds of new HDR video games monthly, so the selection is always growing.
While the situation may seem hopeless at the moment, there is, in fact, a ray of hope.